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After my partner died, I thought to myself: ‘Online dating is the modern way to go.’ I was pretty certain I would soon find my ideal person, somebody clever, witty, good-looking, successful, excellent company, open to new ideas, well-read and with a sense of purpose in life.

If I’m looking for him, he must be looking for me, I reasoned.

Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.

I asked my dad about this experience, and here’s how he described it: he told his parents he was ready to get married, so his family arranged meetings with three neighboring families. That’s how my dad decided on the person with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life.

I am perpetually indecisive about even the most mundane things, and I couldn’t imagine navigating such a huge life decision so quickly. Happily so—and probably more so than most people I know who had nonarranged marriages.

Yet on internet sites, there are dozens, hundreds, possibly even thousands of single people seemingly just like you, all looking for that special person to alleviate their loneliness and provide excitement and companionship for their later years.

Henning Wiechers, who conducted the recent survey on behalf of Metaflake, the vast German online dating agency, claimed that when people are too old to go clubbing, they need to access a second marriage market — and that the internet provides the perfect forum. While online dating is certainly booming in popularity — the industry is worth £170 million in the UK, with nine million of us now logging on in the hope that we will find somebody, otherwise unreachable, who will be just right for us — my experiences should serve as something of a warning to others looking for love online.

We had arranged to meet in a pub opposite Reading Station.

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